Album Review: Little Hurricane – “Homewrecker”

Little Hurricane blew in and out of San Diego like the force of nature they’re named after. Over the coarse of a single year, the two-piece burst onto the scene, quickly became one of the city’s most promising acts, won Best New Artist at the San Diego Music Awards, then moved away to roam the country like nomads.

That whirlwind romance has made Little Hurricane feel like the band that got away, but now the just-released Homewrecker has arrived like a love letter out of the blue. The ominous “Trouble Ahead” kicks off the album with a Kim Thayil-inspired riff chugging beneath Anthony Catalano’s seething vocals, but it isn’t long before the Soundgarden influence defers to a more prominent muse.

The similarities between Little Hurricane and The White Stripes are easy to spot and hard to ignore. Both are male/female blues-rock duos, and Catalano’s voice has that same choked power that gives Jack White’s delivery its visceral heft. But throughout Homewrecker, yet another point of comparison becomes apparent in Celeste Spina’s backups, which are sung with a ghostly airiness — first on the call and response of “Crocodile Tears” and then on the slow-burning “Shortbread” — that bears a striking resemblance to Meg White. In Little Hurricane’s live sets, Spina’s voice is barely audible above the crack of her drums, but on record the Meg-iness is unmistakeable.

That final similarity could have been the straw that broke the band’s back and forever branded them with the dreaded knockoff label. But though Little Hurricane employ the same tools as their red and white muse, the house they build is ultimately a unique one. Credit for that feat can be attributed to Catalano’s assured songwriting, which, combined with the band’s measured execution, allows the songs to open up and breathe. It helps that the duo doesn’t rely on overdubbing to fill out the songs, and as a result, every slid guitar riff and clapped snare is made to count.

It also doesn’t hurt that Little Hurricane know their way around a hook, and Homewrecker is full of them. Catchy melodies and brisk percussion turn “Sun Sets West,” “Lies,” and “Give Em Hell” into highlights, but nearly every song on the album shines in its own way. That might be the most pleasant surprise of all — as a debut, Homewrecker is a remarkably consistent work, made all the more engaging by its cool production and powerful performances. Another record or two like this, and bands will be getting compared to Little Hurricane, not the other way around.

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